EVEN legitimate overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in Malaysia were not spared in the ongoing crackdown on illegal immigrants as tales of abuse and torture continue to be ignored by envoys there.
Because of this, Malacañang on Thursday directed the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to immediately mobilize its consular office in Malaysia to check on the reports.
“There is priority attention being given [to those reports]to find out the particular cases of undue and unjust harassment or harm [against Filipinos],” said Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr.
He said Filipino officials in Malaysia will be asked to act on the reports.
Coloma said he will personally call up Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Ed Malaya to know the condition of those who were affected by the crackdown.
“Specific [complaints]should require clarification,” he added.
Reports reaching Malacañang indicated that a group of legitimate OFWs was jailed along with undocumented ones in Kota Kinabalu. There, the Filipinos, including one architect who has been working legally in the country, were crammed in a small jail cell.
“They were treated like sardines and one could sleep only while standing or hardly sitting down,” said DZRH reporter Florante Rosales, whose brother was among those rounded up by Malaysian police.
Rosales said his younger brother, who was able to sneak in a cellular phone inside the facility, claimed that they were beaten up and made to confess on violations they did not commit.
“The DFA reacts very slowly. Our relatives are there legally and yet they were abused, counted among those undocumented,” Rosales told the Times.
According to his brother, Rosales said the consul of Malaysia should be investigated and that President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself should crack the whip on embassy officials who have been remiss in their duties.
“They give no support to jailed Filipinos. Many are sick. Women are being raped by Malaysian guards,” he quoted his younger brother as saying.
Coloma vowed “prompt action from the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.”
“I am sure that it will be given priority attention by our ambassador,” he said.